One woman in Nepal holds the key to a near extinct language. Seventy five year old Gyani Maiya Sen is the last remaining member of the Kusunda people who speaks their language fluently. Ms Sen states that other Kusunda people can speak a few words of the language but are not fully conversant.
“Fortunately I can also speak Nepali, but I feel very sad for not being able to speak my own language with people from my own community,” she said.
It is not known how many Kusunda people remain at this time; at the time of the 2001 Nepal census, there were 164 Kusundas living in Nepal, however many are thought to have either moved away or died.
Kusunda is considered a language isolate, meaning it has no discernible ties or relationships to any other known living language. No children within the indigenous group are learning the language, and all known Kusunda speakers have married into other tribes.
Whilst Nepal’s Ministry of Culture has no plans to preserve the language, linguistic students are seeking the help of Gyani Maiya Sen to document and learn Kusunda, in the hope of preventing it from dying out completely.
Source: BBC News